Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. had a tougher time with "El Chino" Marcos Rene Maidana than most people expected, but he still won a pretty clear majority decision to move to 46-0 in his Hall of Fame-bound career.
Mayweather's current Showtime/CBS deal has approximately three more fights remaining on it. If he were to win all three, he'd be 49-0. That's pretty impressive, but it would only equal Rocky Marciano's unblemished record.
Money is likely going to want to do something that no one else has done. Going 50-0 would be the most statement-making record in the history of the sport.
Think legacy doesn't matter to Mayweather? Think again. Per Kevin Mitchell of The Guardian, Mayweather said:
"[It's about] legacy, the legacy. When you mention boxing, all I want you to mention is just one name, that's Floyd Mayweather. When my career is over, I don't want nobody talking about nobody else. Nobody. God only made one thing perfect: my boxing record."
So what's the best and most exciting path to 50-0?
The four fights listed below would give Mayweather as much of a challenge as possible and deliver the fights most fans want to see.
Maidana Rematch, 47-0
There are headlines floating about that claim Mayweather was exposed by Maidana. The notion is laughable and more of a complement to Money than a detraction.
We are so accustomed to seeing Mayweather nearly shut out fighters that when he's actually made to compete, we overreact to the limited success Maidana enjoyed.
Facts: Mayweather out-landed Maidana 230-221. Another fact, Mayweather landed at a rate more than twice as high as El Chino. These stats from ShoStats prove the point:
#ShoStats: Total Punches Landed/Thrown thru 12 Mayweather [230/426, 53%] Maidana [221/858, 25%]— SHO Stats (@SHOStats) May 4, 2014
How was he exposed?
From the sixth round on, Mayweather dominated the fight the way he normally does. A rematch would look a lot like Rounds 6-12 from Saturday night.
The second fight needs to happen to satisfy hungry fans, but it would be easy work for Money.
Amir Khan, 48-0
Believe it or not, this is a scary fight for Money. Obviously, there are questions about Amir Khan's chin, but we must remember, Mayweather is not a knockout fighter.
He does have 26 knockouts in his career, but he hasn't stopped a fighter since 2011.
Khan's chin may not be in that much danger.
What Khan does have is a ton of speed. He'd quite possibly be the fastest fighter Mayweather has ever faced. Considering the fact that this fight would likely take place after Money's 38th birthday makes it even more dangerous for the pound-for-pound champion.
At Mayweather's age, performing at a high level is not as automatic as it once was. He keeps himself in marvelous condition, but he's still human.
Ultimately, my prediction would be a late stoppage win for Mayweather, but this one would be a difficult draw. Styles make fights, and Khan's style presents a different challenge.
Winner of Shawn Porter/Keith Thurman, 49-0
Though these two have yet to agree to fight one another, it seems like a natural bout. Both are with Showtime and in the business of fighting tough opponents.
Though Porter is the IBF welterweight champion, he's still trying to make a name for himself, as is Thurman.
Of all the fights on this list, either of these young welterweights would represent the toughest challenge remaining for Mayweather.
Porter is a physically strong, athletic, effectively awkward fighter. He applies tons of pressure, and he can punch.
If Floyd gets through the first few rounds unscathed, he'd likely have the combination to Porter's lock by the end of the fourth round.
Thurman is a different story.
He has great hand speed and better boxing ability than Porter, but it's unclear how he'll react if a fight doesn't go his way early.
He's never really had to make a major adjustment in a fight.
The closest thing to it was his bout with Diego Chavez in July 2013. Chavez lit into Thurman a few times early, but he didn't challenge him mentally the way Money would.
If Mayweather can use his range finders to the midsection, employ his straight right leads, mixed with the check left hooks, he should be able to out-point Thurman. But this is a very dangerous fight for a 38-year-old Mayweather.
Manny Pacquiao, 50-0
You knew it was coming.
This would be one of the easiest wins Mayweather would have in his farewell tour.
Which of these fighters would give Mayweather the toughest battle?
Pacquiao's once vicious punching power seems to have left him, and his stamina isn't what it once was. He hasn't stopped an opponent since 2009.
Money would pot shot his way to a relatively easy win.
Because it's been the most highly anticipated bout in the last 20 years, it seems only fitting that it would be made for Money's 50th victory.
Even though the fight would technically be taking place about seven years after it should have, there's no denying the commercial appeal it would still have.
Beating the only man whose popularity is even near his level, in what should be his last fight, would be an awesome ending for Money.
In a perfect world, Mayweather would walk away from the sport with this win. But unfortunately, fighters rarely hang up the gloves when they should.
We'll see if Money can get to this point. And if he does, if he'll have the discipline to call it a career.
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